Sand in the Gears

Hammering art

Friday, February 10th, 2017 Posted in The Artful Life | No Comments »

They say all great men have a morning routine, so I figured I ought to rush right out and get me one of those. I'll belabor the elements of that routine while subtly flattering myself for it some other time; ...

Of mice and men

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | No Comments »

The mice think I am a god. Not the God, but definitely a god. Their tithe is a fresh-hollowed hazelnut, rolled into the center of my floor every morning. The nuts come, no doubt, from the two-pound bag they stole last ...

Fair

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 17 Comments »

I've been working on contentment, which mostly means I've been praying for God to help me be content in whatever circumstances I find myself, then griping at him when I face trials that might help me learn contentment. But I'm ...

Thy kingdom come

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 Posted in The Sermons | 50 Comments »

I don't think they love their children any less than I love my own, which tells me something about what their lives must be like, to send their babies away. Their children stream northward in droves—as many as 60,000 this ...

The world we show them

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood | 13 Comments »

"Which world do you want to live in?" My oldest son, just days from his 14th birthday, glares back at me. Behind him in the car sit his brothers. Their hands are pressed to their faces. One of them is crying. Caleb begins ...

Past where legs can carry

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 21 Comments »

The day after an amazingly talented actor pushed heroin into his vein and died, I saw yet another study purporting to show that we live in the best of times. It's hard to disagree. Infant mortality and poverty are plummeting. Our ...

The ministering parent

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 16 Comments »

Do you ever look on your children, and wish they had better than you? Back when we were shopping my embarrassingly confessional first book, my agent at the time told me I needed a ministry to accompany it. She said this ...

On the virtue of not being special

Thursday, January 16th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 47 Comments »

"I have a sense," I once told a counselor, "that I'm supposed to do something great." He sat back in his chair and smiled. "Oh yeah. Everyone has that feeling about himself. Especially in this country." I was deflated for weeks. My ...

The Cost of Calling

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 12 Comments »

Many parents carry within our hearts—sometimes in a cramped and even despairing corner—a vision of what we hope our children will become. This vision lives deeper than our wish that they be doctors or NFL quarterbacks, deeper even than our desire ...

The obscured man

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 Posted in The Sermons, Theology | 31 Comments »

This is not a comment about the reasoning of a Slate essayist, who wrote recently that the white Santa is outdated. This is not a comment about the Fox News talking head who took umbrage, asserting that not only Santa, ...

The difference between being blessed and being spared

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 3 Comments »

Some of you may like my latest Good Letters post. Here's an excerpt: This quiet slaughter is perhaps the greatest perversion wrought by the devil after the fall. The most innocent among God’s most favored creation, cut down by a world ...

Sheep and wolves

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 10 Comments »

Because I am a father I think about the parents of that boy torn to pieces, of his sister whose leg was taken. I think about those parents in Newtown, whose biggest Christmas purchases were coffins for their sons and ...

On feeling Godforsaken

Friday, March 29th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 3 Comments »

Some of you might like my meditation on what Good Friday means to the parent of a dead child. Here's an excerpt: "It is a great mystery to me, how God can know what it means to be forsaken, and because ...

The scandal of the evangelical intellectual’s mind

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 Posted in Curmudgeonry, Theology | 1 Comment »

A reasonable response to the accusation that the evangelical mind is insufficiently expansive is to ask to what dimensions its critics would like to see it expanded. That question springs to the lips when considering Biblical scholar Peter Enns's contention ...

The Christianity of Chris

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | 4 Comments »

This is not one of those reflections on the death of Christopher Hitchens, in which the writer labors to bolt his meager little meteor to that man's literary supernova. I've read enough of those to make me retch, if not ...

On the Virtue of Hemlock

Sunday, February 5th, 2012 Posted in Curmudgeonry | Comments Off on On the Virtue of Hemlock

In his recent Boston Review essay, philosophy professor Carlos Fraenkel manages the neat trick of advocating a sensible position -- that high-school students should be taught philosophy -- so ineptly that he ends up proving the opposite, namely, that while ...

Ritual and vision

Friday, January 14th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 5 Comments »

When I was a little boy, I was a pagan. Like our ancestors who had lost sight of God, yet saw visions of him in the luminescent peace of a harvest moon, or the spine-rattling fury of a thunderclap, I ...

The Loughner boy’s eyes

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 20 Comments »

When young men take up guns and set about killing to satisfy whatever dark insanity has possessed them, I think of my sons. I think about the world in which they walk, a world that is physically safer than most ...

On suffering

Monday, January 10th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 6 Comments »

If you believe God loves His children, and then you suffer something terrible and tragic, you have to face head-on the question: Is there God? Close on its heels comes the second query, just as hard: Why does He sit ...

Prodigal

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life | 9 Comments »

Last night I had a drink with a friend, and he told me about his transformed life. He didn't call it that, but there it is, and here he is, the prodigal son returned, the lost sheep brought home to ...

Render thy car seat unto…

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life | 1 Comment »

Six year-old Isaac had a running argument with three year-old Isaiah for a few weeks, on the question of who owns Isaiah's car seat. Isaac, more than any of my other children, has seized on the God trump card in ...

Spot of grace

Friday, August 13th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

I stepped out onto the wet sidewalk this morning and looked up at the sky and tried to see whether the grey clouds were dissipating or gathering tighter, because sometimes on a dark day I just want to know whether ...

Awaiting hope

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Somewhere between a speed too slow to get killed and too fast to get away, a grasshopper found himself clinging to my windshield wiper. He wrapped his thin wire legs around black metal and held on with that baleful, narrow-headed ...

The found faith

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Faith is this knowing in the center of you that will not leave. It has been to you a light that guides, light that illumines the worst of yourself, weight that steadies, weight that holds you where you do not ...

The found church

Monday, July 12th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 3 Comments »

Church is light streaming in, mingled voices, the expectation -- sometimes against all experience -- that this time God will meet you here, or at the very least, that you will leave your miserable ways long enough to meet Him. It ...

On the excommunication of a child

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, Theology | 24 Comments »

I remember, the day they told us our three year-old daughter would die, sitting on her hospital bed, Celeste and I together, holding her and weeping. We never really knew despair, I don’t think, until that day. We held Caroline ...

On the facilitation of murder

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, Theology | 6 Comments »

Reading Bruce Falconer's article in last month's Atlantic, about Swiss suicide facilitator Ludwig Manelli, I was struck by a husband's repeated employment of animal metaphors to justify his wife's poisoning. "You wouldn't leave your dog on the kitchen floor when it can't ...

Blood and mystery

Monday, April 26th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, Theology | 7 Comments »

One of G.K. Chesterton's arguments in Everlasting Man is that the ancient pagans never really revered their petty gods and spirits and magical tree stumps nearly as much as the modern humanist, overflowing with tolerance and reverence for any belief ...

The risen King is love

Sunday, April 4th, 2010 Posted in Theology | 4 Comments »

Leave it to John Piper to devise an Easter message without using the word love. It's from 1983, and to his credit by 2009 he comes up with an Easter sermon that does use the word, though not applied to ...

Deeper than we know

Sunday, March 21st, 2010 Posted in Theology | 5 Comments »

"The Father turns His face away. . .", goes the song. How comforting, then, to read in the 21st Psalm (22nd in the Protestant Bible): Nor has He turned away His face from me; And when I cried out to Him, He ...